Ballasting study

September 2012

The Tent Rental Division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International announces the release of the guidelines and online tool for ballasting of commercial tents. This calculator was derived based on a study completed with Clemson University Department of Engineering in Clemson, South Carolina.

The study focused on a series of basic experiments conducted to determine the performance of different ballast types on various ground surfaces. The performance of the selected ballasts, defined by the static and sliding friction coefficients for each ground surface under various conditions were defined by variables of interest. Variables included angle, anchor horizontal position, anchor vertical position, ballast type and surface type. A large number of drag tests were performed for each set of ballast and ground surface to determine the linearity (on non-linearity) of the ballast performance.

The guidelines and online tool level the playing field of tent rental companies by providing tested and proven industry guidelines for safe ballasting of tents in a user-friendly format. They help tent rental companies determine best methodology for using ballast units to anchor frame tents and clear span structures and determine the expected mean coefficient of friction for water barrels, concrete barrels and concrete blocks on dry asphalt, wet asphalt, dry smooth concrete, wet smooth concrete, dry rough concrete, wet rough concrete, grass, dirt and gravel.

The source of the recommended weight to be applied on a given leg of a tent is provided by the tent manufacturer. Guidelines will provide recommendations as to how a tent rental company can reach the given amount of ballast and what the “weight” of the ballast is under various conditions. The ballasting tool allows a rental company to select from a drop down menu surface type, ballast type, surface condition and modifier. Companies enter the recommended load from the tent manufacturer, ballast distance from upright and the diameter/size of the ballast.

The ballasting tool formula calculates the required amount of ballast and includes the modifier information. Testing resulted in a set of complex formulas that contained multiple failure modes per configuration. The committee worked tirelessly with Clemson University to convert these formulas into a simple and easy tool for the membership. To access guidelines and ballasting tool see the “members only” section of the TRD website. TRD membership is required to access this portion of the site.

The Tent Rental Division of IFAI is an industry alliance of companies in the commercial tent manufacturing and events business. To become a member of the Tent Rental Division, visit the membership form.

TRD’s parent organization, the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), is comprised of member companies representing the international specialty fabrics marketplace. Members’ products cover the broad spectrum of specialty fabrics and include fibers, fabrics, end products, equipment and hardware. IFAI is the largest, most comprehensive trade association serving this industry.

August 2012

The Tent Rental Division ballasting calculator and ballasting guidelines will be available on the members-only section of the TRD website by the end of September. Members of TRD will need to create an account to log in to the site. Please contact us for login information. TRD partnered with Clemson University to conduct a thorough ballasting study and develop the calculator based on the results.

Purpose of the ballasting study

  • Create a set of functional guidelines to assist members of the Tent Rental Division in the proper usage of ballasted installations of rental tents.
  • “Level the playing field” of tent rental companies by providing tested and proven industry guidelines for safe ballasting of tents in a user-friendly format.

Project goal

  • Determine best methodology for using ballast units to anchor frame tents and clear span structures.
  • Determine the expected mean coefficient of friction for water barrels, concrete barrels and concrete blocks on dry asphalt, wet asphalt, dry smooth concrete, wet smooth concrete, dry rough concrete, wet rough concrete, grass, dirt and gravel.
  • Deliver these results in a report and table format to be used as field guidelines for the members of the Tent Rental Division.

Fact

The source of the recommended weight to be applied on a given leg of a tent is provided by the tent manufacturer. Guidelines for the safe ballasting of tents will provide recommendations as to how a tent rental company can reach the given amount of ballast and what the “weight” of the ballast is under various conditions.

May 17, 2011 — Tent Rental Division Code Task Force visits Clemson University

Participants:
Clemson University students: 10 students
Dr. Joshua Summers, Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Vincent Blouin, Material Science and Engineering
Ken Keberle, Karl's Event Rental, IFAI
Joey Ruffin, Anchor Industries, IFAI
Michael Tharpe, TopTec Event Tents, IFAI
Jan Schieffer, IFAI

Topics of Discussion:
Dr. Summers provided a tour of the facilities available for the Ballasting Study for Commercial Rental Tents project. Both testing equipment and resources available were impressive.

Dr. Summers introduced the team of students who have been assigned to complete the project. A presentation was given on the series of experiments Clemson will be conducting to determine the performance of different ballast types on various ground surfaces.

The final ballasts to be tested include: water barrels, concrete barrels and concrete blocks. Water barrel is to be an industry standard 55-gallon plastic container. Cement barrel is to be a metal drum filled with ready-mix cement. Concrete block is to be a k-rail obtained from a local cement manufacturing company, meausring eight feet in length with two hooks for transporting blocks.

Ground surfaces discussed included: smooth concrete, not polished; rough concrete, asphalt, grass, dirt and gravel. TRD will send a questionnaire to rental companies to determine what comprises a “dirt” surface. Grass surface is defined as the grass found in a public park. Gravel was defined as “standard gravel” in a public gathering space. TRD will poll members for type of gravel.

The performance of the selected ballasts will be defined by the static and sliding friction coefficients for each ground surface under various conditions defined by the following variables of interest:

  1. Vertical angle of the guide rope.
  2. Anchor location on the ballast.
  3. Ballast to be as close to the tent base plate eliminating variable of ballast placements from side of tents.
  4. Drag tests conducted for each set of ballast and ground surface for pre-selected values to determine the linearity or non-linearity of the ballast performance.
  5. Ballasts to also be tested with use of construction grade ¾” plywood and ½” rubber mat.

Action Items:

  1. Joey Ruffin to forward base plate drawings from Anchor Industries to Dr. Summers.
  2. Ken keberle and Michael Tharpe to forward photos of base plates to Dr. Summers.
  3. Michael Tharpe to help coordinate k-rail, cement anchor for use during study.
  4. Michael Tharpe to notify Clemson of area tent installations of potential interest to students.
  5. Jan Schieffer to poll industry for types of ground surfaces and forward information to Dr. Summers.
  6. Dr. Summers to provide bi-weekly updates to Jan Schieffer.
  7. Questions regarding the study are to be forwarded to all members of the TRD Task Force for comments.

Fact findings information:
Clemson University accepts liability for students when conducting the ballasting study. Data collected and information developed will be shared only with TRD or upon approval from TRD. Representatives from Clemson will present study findings at Tent Conference 2012 in Las Vegas.

April 20, 2011 — Tent Rental Division awards ballasting study to Clemson University

The Tent Rental Division of IFAI is pleased to announce Clemson University, Greenville, S.C., as the recipient for the ballasting of commercial tents in the tent rental industry study. The Code Task Force of the Tent Rental Division evaluated submitted proposals based on responses to the RFP including time frame guidelines, documentation, number of tests conducted, input requests from the industry, data analysis and reporting. Ken Keberle, Code Task Force Chair, recommended Clemson University to the Steering Committee of TRD. The Steering Committee then voted to approve the selection.

The goal of the ballasting project is to develop industry-wide guidelines and reliable criteria to use when determining how much ballast is needed and how this is best accomplished when installing rental tents. This effort will also be a combination of showing how to ballast a tent most effectively and presenting diagrams and numbers to calculate the amount of ballast needed.

Members of the Tent Rental Division will meet with Clemson University on May 17, 2011 to discuss details of the project and establish progress markers. The overall goal of the TRD is to present Guidelines for the Ballasting of Commercial Tents at Tent Conference 2012 in Las Vegas. Updates will be posted on tentexperts.org throughout the course of the study.

A special thank you to all members of the Tent Rental Division of IFAI for their support in helping to arrive at the decision to conduct an industry ballasting study and to the Steering Committee and especially the Code Task Force for preparing the RFP and evaluating the proposals.

January 26, 2011 — Ballasting discussed at Tent Expo 2011

The Tent Rental Division of the Industrial Fabrics Association International is soliciting bids for a ballasting of commercial tents in the tent rental industry study. The goal of the project is to develop industry-wide guidelines and reliable criteria to use when determining how much ballast is needed and how this is best accomplished. This effort will also be a combination of showing how to ballast a tent most effectively combined with presenting diagrams and numbers to calculate the amount of ballast needed. A vote was taken at the Tent Rental Division of IFAI Annual Business Meeting to allocate funds for the study.

For larger rental projects, there is already an established process to determine the ballasting needs, by having individual ballast studies performed by specialized engineering firms. This study will utilize the manufacturer provided anchor loads as input to develop the required ballast.

For questions regarding proposal, please contact Jan Schieffer, Managing Director of Tent Rental Division of IFAI at 651 225 6944.

Deadline for accepting bids is March 18, 2011. The awarding of the bid will be based on scope of work, budget and professionalism. Award of the bid will be determined upon completion of “Submittal of Report.” Announcement of recipient of project bid will be April 20, 2011.

Details of IFAI Ballasting Study RFP (PDF)

August 2010 ballasting webinar summary

A webinar was held on August 17th to discuss developing guidelines for the ballasting/weighting of tents. Members of the Tent Rental Division of IFAI presented the information to industry. This is a summary of the information presented by representatives of the Life Safety Task Force of the Tent Rental Division.

Introduction
Ballasting is a way of life in our industry. It is an accepted practice and is in almost every market sector. It is also used in every geographic region. Manufacturers support ballasting by supplying basic reaction or hold down values. Almost every rental company ballasts on a consistent basis. Many customers including municipalities insist on ballasting on specific venues.

The question before our membership is this:

Is it in the best interests of the industry, specifically the members of the Tent Rental Division of the Industrial Fabrics Association to undertake the creation of a set of guidelines on engineering research and conduct by an independent third party firm that result in a set of practical guidelines for the safe and effective use of ballast?

Ballasting guideline objectives:

  • This set of guidelines will specifically NOT create hold down or reaction values Responsibility will remain with the tent and structure manufacturers.
  • The guidelines will address methods needed to safely adjust manufacturer supported hold down values and to apply ballasting solutions for common surfaces and applications that rental companies regularly encounter.
  • The guidelines will address methods to safely and effectively attach ballast to tents and structures of as many manufacturers cooperating with this study.
  • The guidelines will address methods of attaching ballast to tents and structures in a safe effective and consistent manner.
  • The guidelines will specifically address and recommend ballast and ballasting practices.

Items of specific attention will be:

  • Modifications, alterations and additions to base plates
  • Methods of securing ballast to tents or structures
  • Specifying minimum hardware standards for any equipment that is integrated into the ballasted tent or structure installation
  • Examining and recommending placement methods to ensure consistent factors

The guidelines will specifically identify hazardous practices that are often encountered and recommend solutions to those practices.

The engineering study and guideline development will be performed and developed to stand up to the most rigorous test of liability and standard practices. This will be a priority to protect the best interests of the members of the IFAI, as well as any rental company that chooses to adopt and adhere to these guidelines.

The study will not create any guidelines or advise any practices in areas that are already described or recommended by existing standards or regulations.

Implications to the decision on approval of the study:

There are three possible outcomes to this process.

  1. Completion of guidelines by the IFAI and voluntary adoption by members of the industry.
  2. Completion of guidelines by the IFAI and non-compliance by members of the industry.
  3. No guidelines developed.

Effect on the industry and its constituents based on completion of guidelines by the IFAI Tent Rental Division:

  • Understanding best practices will allow manufacturers to understand the renters’ and end-users’ challenges and solutions as they serve the public.
  • There will become voluntary guidelines that a tent rental company could draw upon for reference in the bidding or construction phases of their operations.
  • If this study is not completed there will remain no consistent methodology for installing ballasted tents.
  • Building officials will be able use the guidelines to better understand a safe and compliant installation and regulate the permitting and installation process accordingly.
  • If this study is not undertaken building officials will continue to enforce codes without regards to practical guidelines.
  • If the study is not approved it will remain the responsibility of each tent rental company to research and develop their own methodology for installation without regard to standards or practices.
  • It this study is not completed it will be necessary for tent companies to continue developing their own resources for defending their chosen practices in event of litigation.
  • If this study is completed, companies that choose not to adhere to these voluntary guidelines may find themselves defending their choice not to adopt these practices in the event of litigation.
  • By adopting and adhering to the voluntary guidelines; a tent or structure company would have some modicum of defense should they become involved in litigation.
  • If this study is approved there will be a leveling of the competitive environment as many rental companies will all have access to similar baseline compliance practices.
  • If this study is completed, companies that choose not to adhere to these voluntary guidelines may find themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
  • If this study is not approved an open market bid will be able to be bid without consistent values or practices.

    May 2010 statement to industry

    To weight or not to weight, ballast guidelines or no ballast guidelines…industry topcis for discussion.
    The Tent Rental Division of IFAI desires all members of the tenting industry to be aware of the pros and cons of “Guidelines to Alternative Anchoring and Ballasting of Frame Tents.” The process of developing guidelines must be thorough and in the best interests of the industry. As a trade association representing our industry, we want to be proactive in this matter.

    Members of the Codes Task Force of TRD have compiled a list of Pros and Cons for industry to consider. Topics for discussion will be addressed during a special session held during IFAI Tent Expo 2011 in St Pete Beach, Fla. preceding a membership vote.

    All members of industry are being asked by the Code Task Force to evaluate the importance of guidelines for ballasting of tents. Again, we remind members of industry the recommended weights per tent leg will still be determined by the tent manufacturer. The study will provide guidelines on how to achieve the recommended weights with ballasting instead of anchoring.

    Similar industry challenges were voiced when the Tent Rental Division of IFAI developed “Guidelines for Determining the Holding Power of Tent Stakes.” After many months of discussion, research and development, the guidelines were launched changing the way tent rental companies staked tents. The end result continues to be safer tent installations and improved safety for the public in tented events. The study increased the awareness level on how to determine sufficient anchoring of tents with staking. Recouping of the costs of the initial study continues today. Individual rental companies, tent manufacturers, tent publications, code officials, engineers and installers continue to reference the study.

    Now, the tent installation industry is being asked to ballast instead of stake a tent. The Tent Rental Division believes it is the industry’s responsibility to develop guidelines before officials and inspectors mandate methods.

    Consider the following reasons why the tent rental industry should have ballasting guidelines:

    • The market is requesting this option.
    • Guidelines established by a reputable, credible source
    • Engineered data will aid in establishing guidelines for proper procedure for ballasting
    • Assist rental companies in securing a safer job site for customers and public
    • Create a level playing field for quoting projects avoiding/forcing members into quoting unsafe low levels of ballasting “to get the job.”
    • Members can use this information as a competitive edge
    • Guidelines may be more easily accepted by code officials
    • Industry would be proactive rather than reactive
    • There is no conflict with underground utilities
    • Ballasting allows setup in more locations

    What potential impact could the guidelines present to the tent rental industry?

    • The amount of weight required could be substantial
    • Increasing costs for current installs that have not been using sufficient ballast in the past
    • Raises questions for manufacturers on “non-certified” tents and structures of what are loads
    • Some manufacturers may not be able to provide needed load information to meet guidelines
    • May not be accepted by code officials
    • May cause loads on uprights that are not designed/planned for based on how weight attaches
    • Aesthetics of how sacks of weight look and possibly block tent openings

    Our industry’s future is in our hands. The mission statement of TRD, your industry trade association, is to foster safety, quality and creativity in the use of commercial rental tents. Our industries future is linked to safety. Voice your opinions by e-mail at tentcodes.com.

    March 2010 comments to industry

    There is a need among the Tent Rental Division of IFAI membership for guidelines in regards to the ballasting of commercial rental tents. The need for ballasting is ever growing with increasing limitations on the staking of commercial rental tents. A survey was forwarded to the membership during February 2010.

    Ninety percent of the membership responding stated ballasting guidelines are necessary and to spend division monies on the study. However, the Steering Committee of the Tent Rental Division agreed the division members need to have the opportunity to express their concerns and ideas for ballasting study guidelines. The Steering Committee has recommended that the study go before the membership of Tent Rental Division at the annual business meeting to be held at Tent Expo 2011, January 24-26, 2011, Tradewinds Resort, St Pete Beach, Fla. Because ballasting of tents is such an important project, it was decided that the next nine months should be spent educating the members and industry on the objectives, implications, costs, risk, etc.

    The study will determine best methodology for using ballast units to anchor frame tents and clearspan structures and determine the expected mean coefficient of friction for water & concrete barrels, concrete blocks on dry and wet asphalt, dry and wet smooth concrete, dry and wet rough concrete, grass, dirt and gravel.

    The source of the recommended weight to be applied on a given leg of a tent will still be the tent manufacturer. The study will only give recommendations as to how a tent rental company can reach a given amount of ballast and what the “weight” of ballast is under various conditions. For more information regarding the ballasting study for the commercial tent rental industry, e-mail jlmontei@ifai.com.